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Electronic parking meter with vehicle sensor

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Electronic parking meter with vehicle sensor


An electronic single space parking meter associated with a parking space is provided. The meter includes a support pole and an electronic meter mechanism coupled to and supported from the support pole. The electronic meter mechanism includes a processor. The meter includes a vehicle sensor communicably coupled to the processor of the electronic meter mechanism. The vehicle sensor is configured to detect a vehicle located within the parking space. The vehicle sensor is coupled to and supported by the support pole at a position above the ground and below the electronic meter mechanism.

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Inventors: Gavin Jones, Balu Subramanya, Mike Nickolaus
USPTO Applicaton #: #20120286968 - Class: 34087002 (USPTO) - 11/15/12 - Class 340 


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The Patent Description & Claims data below is from USPTO Patent Application 20120286968, Electronic parking meter with vehicle sensor.

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CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED PATENT APPLICATION

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 61/484,568 titled “PARKING METER SYSTEMS AND METHODS,” filed May 10, 2011, which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to the field of parking meter systems, devices and methods. The present invention relates specifically to a parking meter system equipped for wireless communication between the various components of the parking system.

Single space parking meters are typically associated with a single parking space. To utilize an individually metered parking space, a motorist typically inserts money into the parking meter, and the parking meter displays an amount of time related to the amount of money inserted. A multi-space meter typically provides a single payment location for more than one parking spot, and the multi-space meter receives payment and tracks meter time for the multiple parking spots. For either type of meter, the motorist may park at the metered spot for the amount of parking time purchased. When the time on the meter expires, the motorist may move their car or add more time to the meter. If the meter expires and the motorist remains parked at the meter, a parking enforcement officer may issue a parking ticket. A city or other entity may operate a city wide system of single space parking meters and/or multi-space meters.

SUMMARY

OF THE INVENTION

Generally, one embodiment of the invention relates to a parking meter including one or more vehicle sensors associated with each single space meter in the parking system. The vehicle sensor is located above the ground and set back from the curb, and may be mounted to the supported pole for the meter.

Another embodiment of the invention relates to a single space parking meter associated with a parking space. The single space parking meter includes a support pole including a lower end and an upper end, and the lower end is configured to be coupled to the ground adjacent the parking space such that there is a distance between the support pole and the parking space. The meter includes an electronic meter mechanism coupled to and supported from the upper end of the support pole, and the electronic meter mechanism includes a processor. The meter includes a vehicle sensor communicably coupled to the processor of the electronic meter mechanism, and the vehicle sensor is configured to detect a vehicle located within the parking space across the distance, to generate a signal indicative of the presence of the vehicle within the parking space and to communicate the signal to the processor. The vehicle sensor is coupled to and supported by the support pole at a position above the ground and below the electronic meter mechanism, and the vehicle sensor includes a detection zone and the vehicle sensor is positioned such that the detection zone is located within the parking space.

Another embodiment of the invention relates to a parking meter including a support pole including a lower end and an upper end, and the lower end is configured to be coupled to the ground. The parking meter includes an electronic meter mechanism coupled to and supported from the upper end of the support pole, and the electronic meter mechanism includes a processor. The electronic meter mechanism is associated with a parking spot. The parking meter includes a vehicle sensor communicably coupled to the processor, and the vehicle sensor is located above the ground and set back from the parking spot such that there is a space between the vehicle sensor and the parking spot. The vehicle sensor is configured to detect a vehicle located within the parking spot across the space and to generate a signal indicative of the presence of the vehicle within the parking spot and to communicate the signal to the processor.

Another embodiment of the invention relates to an electronic single space parking meter system configured to be mounted to a support pole and associated with a parking space. The electronic single space parking meter system includes a vehicle sensor and an electronic meter mechanism configured to be received within an outer meter housing coupled the upper end of the support pole. The electronic meter mechanism includes an inner housing including a front side and a rear side and wireless communications hardware supported by the inner housing configured to wirelessly communicate data between the electronic meter mechanism and a parking management system. The electronic meter mechanism includes a credit card mag-strip reader supported by the inner housing, a currency reader including a slot for receiving currency, an electronic display screen supported by the inner housing and a meter control system. The vehicle sensor includes a sensor housing and a sensing element configured to detect a vehicle within the parking space and to generate a signal indicative of the presence of the vehicle within the parking space. The sensing element is supported within the sensor housing. The electronic single space parking meter system includes a wired communication link configured to communicably couple the sensing element to the meter control system to communicate the signal indicative of vehicle presence from the sensing element to the meter control system.

Alternative exemplary embodiments relate to other features and combinations of features as may be generally recited in the claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

This application will become more fully understood from the following detailed description, taken in conjunction with the accompanying figures, wherein like reference numerals refer to like elements in which:

FIG. 1 shows a parking system according to an exemplary embodiment.

FIG. 2 shows a pole-mount vehicle sensor according to an exemplary embodiment.

FIG. 3 shows a surface-mount vehicle sensor according to exemplary embodiments.

FIG. 4 shows a subterranean sensor according to an exemplary embodiment.

FIG. 5 shows a parking system according to an exemplary embodiment.

FIG. 6 shows a parking system according to an exemplary embodiment.

FIG. 7 is a block diagram of a parking system according to an exemplary embodiment.

FIG. 8A is a front view of a single-space parking meter according to an exemplary embodiment.

FIG. 8B is an exploded view of a single-space parking meter according to an exemplary embodiment.

FIG. 9 is a front view of an electronic meter mechanism according to an exemplary embodiment.

FIG. 10 is a flow diagram showing the operation of a parking meter according to an exemplary embodiment.

FIG. 11 is a flow diagram showing zeroing of a parking meter according to an exemplary embodiment.

FIG. 12 is a flow diagram showing control of parking meter including a maximum time limit according to an exemplary embodiment.

FIG. 13 is a block diagram showing an electronic meter mechanism according to an exemplary embodiment.

FIG. 14 is a block diagram of a controller for a parking meter according to an exemplary embodiment.

FIG. 15 shows a controller coupled to the main electronics board of a single-space meter according to an exemplary embodiment.

FIG. 16 shows a controller incorporated in a stand-alone vehicle sensor according to an exemplary embodiment.

FIG. 17 shows a controller configured for the control of two single-space parking meters according to an exemplary embodiment.

FIG. 18 shows a detailed block diagram of a controller configured for the control of two sets of peripheral devices for two single-space parking meters according to an exemplary embodiment.

FIG. 19 shows a controller configured to provide additional functionality as a retrofit for a single-space meter according to an exemplary embodiment.

FIG. 20 shows a controller configured to function as a gateway for a parking system according to an exemplary embodiment.

FIG. 21 shows a process for upgrading a single-space parking meter with a new electronic meter mechanism according to an exemplary embodiment.

FIG. 22 is a front view of an electronic meter mechanism according to an exemplary embodiment.

FIG. 23 is a side view of an electronic meter mechanism according to an exemplary embodiment.

FIG. 24 is a rear view of an electronic meter mechanism according to an exemplary embodiment.

FIG. 25 shows a process of upgrading a single-space parking meter with a new electronic meter mechanism according to an exemplary embodiment.

FIG. 26 shows a meter housing cap following revision to accommodate an electronic meter mechanism that includes front and rear solar panels.

FIG. 27 shows a perspective view of an electronic meter mechanism with a removable memory device according to an exemplary embodiment.

FIG. 28 shows the electronic meter mechanism of FIG. 27 with the removable memory device removed according to an exemplary embodiment.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Before turning to the figures, which illustrate the exemplary embodiments in detail, it should be understood that the present application is not limited to the details or methodology set forth in the description or illustrated in the figures. It should also be understood that the terminology is for the purpose of description only and should not be regarded as limiting.

Referring to FIGS. 1, 5, 6 and 7, various exemplary embodiments of parking system 10 are shown. In the exemplary embodiment of FIG. 1, parking system 10 includes one or more single-space parking meters 12, one or more multi-space parking meters 14, a communication network, shown as wireless network 16, and a parking system control system, shown as parking management system 18. Both single-space meters 12 and multi-space meter 14 may be configured to communicate with parking management system 18 by directly accessing wireless network 16. In various embodiments, wireless network 16 may be a mobile telephone system, and meters 12 and 14 may access wireless network 16 utilizing standard mobile telephone systems (e.g., GSM, GPRS, EDGE, 2.5G, 3G, 4G, etc.).

As discussed in more detail below, meters 12 and 14 are configured to communicate parking meter data to parking management system 18 via wireless network 16, and the communicated parking meter data is utilized by parking management system 18 to provide the parking system functionalities discussed herein. For example, parking management system 18 is a computerized, server system that provides for processing, storage and management of data within parking system 10. In one embodiment shown in FIG. 1, parking management system 18 includes at least one server 19 and wireless communications subsystem 21. Server 19 is configured to store and process parking data associated with a particular parking spot (e.g., current parking space occupancy information, current meter time, vehicle sensor data, information regarding mode of payment, vehicle arrival information, vehicle departure information, parking rates, location information, etc.), including parking data received wirelessly from the meters, to generally provide the parking system functions discussed herein. Wireless communications hardware 21 of parking management system 18 is configured to allow server 19 to communicate wirelessly with the various components of parking system 10 discussed herein.

Further, server 19 is configured to store and generate data that may be communicated wirelessly to the various components of parking system 10, and in this embodiment, wireless communication hardware 21 is configured to transmit system data or information from server 19 to the appropriate component of the parking system. For example, wireless communications hardware 21 is configured to transmit and meters 12 and 14 are configured to receive information from parking management system 18 via wireless network 16. The system data transmitted from parking management system 18 and received by the parking meters may include parking meter configuration data, parking rate data, time and date data, testing and diagnostic data, parking meter software updates, etc. It should be understood that while the embodiments discussed herein relate primarily to a parking system that communicates with parking management system 18 via a wireless communication network 16, in other embodiments, a wired or a combination wired/wireless communication network may be used to provide communication to parking management system 18.

Parking system 10 also includes one or more vehicle sensors, shown as pole-mount vehicle sensors 20, curb surface-mount sensor 22 and street surface-mount sensor 24. Generally, sensors 20, 22 and 24 are each associated with a single parking space 26 and are configured to detect the presence of a vehicle located in the associated parking space, to detect entry of a vehicle into the associated parking space and/or to detect the exit of a vehicle from the associated parking space. In the embodiment of FIG. 1, a pole-mount sensor 20 is associated with and in communication with each single-space meter 12, and sensors 22 and 24 are associated with and in communication with multi-space meter 14. In other embodiments, a subterranean sensor 28 (see FIG. 4) may be located beneath the surface of the parking spot in place of street surface-mount sensor 24. In other embodiments, a curb surface-mount sensor 22, a street surface-mount sensor 24 or subterranean sensor 28, may be associated with a single-space meter 12 instead of pole-mount sensor 20. Generally, vehicle sensors 20, 22 and 24 are directional sensors (i.e., sensor that only senses in a particular region or direction) and include a targetable detection zone. Generally, the vehicle sensors are positioned such that the targetable detection zone is located within the parking space associated with the meter and is not located in adjacent parking spaces.

Vehicle sensors 20, 22, 24 and 28 are configured to detect one or more aspect (e.g., presence, entry, exit, etc.) of a vehicle within the parking spot associated with the sensor and to generate a signal indicative of the detected aspect of the vehicle. The generated signal is then communicated from the sensor to a controller associated with the parking meter for the parking spot. In various embodiments, communication from the sensors to the associated meter may be either through wired or wireless communication. As explained in more detail below, the parking meter may execute various functions in response to the detected aspect of the vehicle and may send data to and/or receive data from parking management system 18 in response to the detected aspect of the vehicle. In addition, data generated by the vehicle sensor associated with each meter (e.g., data related to the presence of a vehicle within the space associated with the meter) may be communicated to parking management system 18 via the wireless communications hardware of the meter.

Referring to FIGS. 1, 5 and 6, parking system 10 include a plurality of single-space meters 12 (e.g., 2, 3, 4, . . . 50, . . . 100, more than 2, more than 10, more than 20, more than 50, more than 100, etc., single-space meters), and may include one or more multi-space parking meters 14. In the embodiment shown, each single-space parking meter 12 includes a vehicle sensor, shown as vehicle sensor 20, physically coupled to and supported by the parking meter pole 75. As shown pole 75 includes a lower end coupled to the ground adjacent to and set back from parking space 26 associated with the meter 12 such that there is a distance or space located between pole 75 and space 26. With vehicle sensor 20 coupled to pole 75, a space is present between vehicle sensor 20 and parking space 26, and vehicle sensor 20 is configured to detect an aspect of a vehicle located within parking space 26 across the space. As shown in FIG. 1, vehicle sensor 20 includes a targetable detection zone 17, and vehicle sensor 20 is positioned on pole 75 such that the detection zone 17 of vehicle sensor 20 is located within parking space 26. In another embodiment, vehicle sensor 20 may be physical coupled to and supported by the parking meter housing. In these embodiments, vehicle sensor 20 is located above both the street and sidewalk surface and is also set back from the curb.



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stats Patent Info
Application #
US 20120286968 A1
Publish Date
11/15/2012
Document #
13468873
File Date
05/10/2012
USPTO Class
34087002
Other USPTO Classes
International Class
08C15/06
Drawings
28



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